Investment Brokers Take Early Retirement, Your Pension as Fee for ‘Listening to Your Sad Life Goals’

NEW YORK—It’s nearly time to retire. Do you know where your financial advisers are?

If you think you know their whereabouts, they’ve probably run off with your pension fund and disappeared to a private island under an assumed name.

“This wouldn’t happen if you just kept your unrealistic dreams for retirement to yourself,” explained Molly Palmer of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Nobody wants to hear about your lifelong desire to sail the Mediterranean or to put your grandchildren through college, least of all your broker who knows these goals are completely out of reach.”

Assuming people require as much as 20 times their annual income to maintain a comparable standard of living through retirement, Palmer warns, “Your investment guy is likely just bleeding you dry until your eldest child arrives with a U-Haul to cart you and your dilapidated possessions away to some third-rate nursing home.”

In many cases, brokers need not have fiduciary loyalty to their clients. That is, they aren’t required to act in the best financial interest of those they’re advising—about their financial interests. Instead, many planners push their clients into funds with low payouts and hefty fees, crushing their naive plans for a comfortable retirement.

“Before you know it,” says Palmer, “your broker’s fees have eaten away so much of your savings that you’d be lucky to afford a dinner at Old Country Buffet, much less enjoy a smorgasbord aboard the Royal Caribbean.” If you want to invest and need to consult you can contact at Bellwether Capital.

Fortunately, the Department of Labor proposed a rule that would extend consumer protections and keep more brokers from placing their own financial interests first. Unfortunately, that was back in 2010. Since then, you are four years closer to retirement and the proposed rules have again been delayed until at least this August on account of pressure from the financial services industry.

The Labor Department has “really been stymied by the financial industry, which is spending millions of dollars to fight this rule,” observed Karen Friedman of the Pension Rights Group.

“But you can’t really blame us for taking advantage of our clients’ bad investments,” says William Goddard, a broker at Fidelity Investments. “Our personal retirement plan just happened to be far superior to that of our clients.”

Until new rules are enacted, “It’s not at all advisable to talk to Chuck—or anyone else—about your sad little retirement plans,” says Palmer, “not if you want to keep your already modest pension intact.”